Rapid Weight Loss Diets:
Are You Really Losing Fat?
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Almost every day, it seems, there is a new diet which promises rapid weight loss – magazines and internet ads continuously promote the latest super-foods or detox programs which presumably help you to burn pounds of fat off your belly, thighs and hips in just a few weeks.
Those of us who are anxious to get rid of unsightly fat in order to fit into a fantastic holiday dress, or hit the beach wearing a hot new swimsuit, eagerly grasp at one fad diet after another, hoping the “guarantees” that we will be slimmer and more attractive in almost no time will pan out.
But do these promises hold up under scientific scrutiny?
When weight loss occurs rapidly, are we really getting rid of fat?
And what is the likelihood that the weight will stay off?
Do rapid weight loss diets work?
In the U.S. alone, consumers spend over $30 million dollars per year on products that are supposed to help them lose weight fast. Fad diets such as the lemon-juice-and-maple-syrup detox program, made popular by pop star Beyonce, promise to cleanse your system and help you to burn calories more efficiently.
Over-the-counter weight loss products are not regulated by the FDA, and there is no proof that any of them are truly effective (with the exception of prescription medications that are taken under medical supervision by patients who are severely obese).
However, diets which drastically restrict the number of calories consumed, such as the lemon juice diet, the cabbage soup diet, and the extremely low-carb diets, can cause an initial rapid loss of weight. If you are trying to lose five or ten pounds in a few weeks to look great for a special event, chances are you will lose the weight on one of these diet regimens.
The bad news is that this type of “crash” diet rarely results in permanent weight loss; the vast majority of people who lose weight in this manner gain everything back in short order.
Is the initial weight loss from a crash diet really fat?
When you first start a new diet which reduces the number of calories you consume, the weight you are losing is unfortunately almost definitely not fat. Before your body can begin burning fat, it turns to the glycogen (essentially a blood sugar reserve) stored in your body for the fuel it needs to function.
Because glycogen molecules are attached to water molecules, the initial weight you lose actually comes from water. Next, your body turns to another energy source – your muscle tissue. After losing water weight initially, you begin to lose some of your lean body mass before your body finally turns to the energy stored in your fat cells.
On average, it takes at least 2 weeks of dedicated calorie counting and exercise to truly begin burning fat. Even though a crash diet can help you to trim down in size, it does not help you get rid of the fat tissue that you really want to lose.
Why do most people regain the weight after a crash diet?
Rapid weight loss diets are not meant to be maintained for more than a couple of weeks, except in extreme cases and under close medical supervision. It is dangerous and unhealthy to severely restrict calories over a long period of time – even if you can keep it up (most people can’t).
When you drastically reduce the number of calories you consume, your body switches into what is often referred to as “starvation mode.” This is an evolutionary adaptation that is meant to help us get through periods of famine; when there are not enough calories present, the body slows down its metabolic rate and conserves as many calories as possible – in the fat cells.
Even when you begin eating normally again, your body continues to preserve the calories you consume, causing you to regain the weight you lost. What is worse is that even though your initial weight loss was not from fat, the weight that you put back on is fat – so you are actually worse off than when you started.
Most nutrition experts recommend losing weight slowly – no more than a pound or two per week. By doing so, you allow your body to adjust to the changes it is experiencing and fine-tune your metabolic rate accordingly. By following a healthy diet and exercising regularly, you can get rid of your unwanted fat and maintain your weight loss for the long term.
!!Before beginning any diet or exercise program, it is important that you talk to your doctor and make sure that you are following an appropriate nutrition and exercise plan!!
You must seek approval from your doctor before starting any new diet. Please read our Terms !